Delaying the MORE Act is Postponing Justice for those Harmed by Marijuana Prohibition
Students for Sensible Drug Policy is disappointed in the announcement to postpone the U.S. House vote on the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Opportunity (MORE) Act (HR 3884), which had been announced for a vote the week of September 21st. This news is particularly disappointing because next week marks the 50th anniversary of the House voting to include marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, setting the stage for the failed policies that have damaged hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
More than 1,800 individuals were arrested each day for marijuana offenses in 2018, primarily for possession alone, with arrest rates rising each of the past three years. That means between now and November more than 77,000 Americans will be arrested for marijuana offenses. Those arrested will overwhelmingly be Black and brown individuals, despite similar use rates as whites. A marijuana arrest can seriously derail a young person’s life, from denial of federal student loan money to difficulty finding employment due to an arrest record to being locked away from loved ones while incarcerated for a conviction. Fears from prohibitionists that state legalization would increase youth use have turned out to be false, as study after study has confirmed.
The MORE Act would do much to address the harms caused by prohibition. While most marijuana arrests take place at the state level, most of the resistance by states to reform their laws stems from pressure to conform with federal law. In addition to ending the federal criminalization of marijuana, the MORE Act would incentivize state expunge marijuana convictions and provide funding for programs such as job training and re-entry services in communities that experienced disproportionate enforcement.
Despite our disappointment, SSDP is encouraged that House leadership has committed to holding a vote on the bill in November. We look forward to working over the weeks to come to ensure that MORE passes with the largest margin of victory possible. Please make a gift today so we can continue to push for the end to federal marijuana prohibition.